I remember sitting in that courtroom in Bellefonte about day 3 of the trial, having to remind myself to stay present in the moment - to bear witness and to truly listen to the young man who was on the stand telling HIS truth. You see, the stories --- how Jerry Sandusky groomed his young victims, riding in the car with the hand on the leg, the workouts, showers, soap wars, leading eventually to the rape of these little boys --- had become so rote, dare I say redundant, that I had to remind myself to physically be present, to honestly bear witness to THIS story, rather than become tone deaf because we had "heard it all before." For this young man, this was his first telling - this was his life that was ripped apart and it was important to SEE, HEAR and BELIEVE him.
Similarly - let us now not breeze over yet ANOTHER story of child sexual abuse and institutional cover up...
Poly Prep Country Day School, one of New York's most prestigious private schools, has agreed to settle a landmark lawsuit claiming its longtime football coach sexually abused hundreds of boys over a 25-year period and that officials covered up the assaults for decades. The settlement ends a three-year legal and public relations battle that divided parents and alumni and turned the elite Brooklyn school into a symbol of institutional indifference to sexual abuse in youth sports.
The explosive suit, filed in 2009, claimed officials at the Dyker Heights prep school knew that coach Phil Foglietta was a sexual predator, but ignored repeated complaints during his 25 years at the school because they didn't want to jeopardize the institution's athletic reputation and fund-raising efforts.
One plaintiff says former Poly Prep athletic director Harlow Parker saw Foglietta abusing him in a shower and simply walked away without stopping the assault, just as a grand jury report describes Nittany Lions receivers coach Mike McQueary as failing to act when he witnessed the now-convicted Jerry Sandusky allegedly raping a boy in the showers of a Penn State locker room.
For over 25 years, it is estimated that this coach abused hundreds of young boys while administrators looked the other way. Institutional indifference and child sexual abuse - as history has shown, this is far too common in our society. Do we really care more about our football programs, image, money, than we do about the innocent lives of children??
He could have been stopped after one of the first rapes
A few months after Foglietta arrived at the school, the suit says, a student named William Jackson complained that the coach had sexually abused him. Parker and then-headmaster J. Folwell Scull, according to the suit, told Jackson's parents that Jackson made up the allegations and threatened to expel him if he raised them again. That was the beginning of a coverup, Mulhearn has argued, that not only allowed Foglietta to rape and assault students for more than 20 years, but also prevented his clients from pursuing litigation against the school in a timely fashion.
A Watershed Moment for Survivors - Statute of Limitations
Poly Prep attorneys argued that the suit, filed in Brooklyn federal court, should have been dismissed because it was filed long after the statute of limitations had expired. But federal judge Frederic Block, in what may be a watershed moment for sexual abuse survivors, ruled in August that portions of the suit could proceed because administrators may have lied when they said they did not become aware of the abuse allegations until 1991.
New York state law requires survivors of childhood sexual abuse to file a case by the time they are 23 years old. But Block agreed with Mulhearn when he allowed portions of the suit to proceed in August, ruling that Poly Prep could not use the statute of limitations to block the suit if administrators had consistently lied about when they first learned about the allegations. The coverup, according to lawyers for the plaintiffs, continued even after the suit was filed: They complained that Poly Prep and its attorneys, led by Jeffrey Kohn of O'Melveny and Myers, refused to testify honestly or provide requested documents, prompting Pollak to sanction the school in 2011 for discarding documents relevant to the case. In June, Pollak again said there was ample evidence that indicated the school and its legal team were attempting to defraud the court and the plaintiffs.
This could have huge legal ramifications in many cases - particularly as it relates to the Boy Scouts of America
, the Catholic Church
, Penn State
, Horace Mann
, Jimmy Saville and the BBC
, et al...
It appears to me that this precedence setting ruling may provide the opportunity for victims of child sexual abuse to bring charges even if they are outside the statute of limitations.
More after the jump...
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